The arrival of a new baby is an exciting new chapter in a parent’s life. For first-timers in the ‘baby bubble’, it’s the joy of becoming a family while adjusting to new routines and sleep patterns. For seasoned players, it’s a time for the family to bond, for siblings to get to know each other and to settle into a new family dynamic.
Lion NZ’s Dean Wharewera (Ngāti Awa) is firmly in the second camp, having recently welcomed his third child Brodie together with his partner. With an expanding brood, Dean knows only too well how important those early weeks and months are for his little ones, his partner and the family as a whole.
Change for the better
Knowing what’s important to people is also Dean’s role as Culture and Change Leader at Lion. In his 10 years at Lion, Dean has worked with hundreds of people across the business, watching many careers and lives change with the passing of time, a perspective he sees as a privilege.
“I love that I get to work across different functions, meeting new people and getting a better understanding of their world,” Dean says. Actively supporting his colleagues matters too, he says, recalling a piece of life advice he received years ago and continues to live by today.
Every interaction you have is an opportunity to make a positive impact on others.
Dean’s role sees him leading culture and change initiatives across Lion that enable people and the business to flourish. It’s a role that suits him well. “My sister is a clinical psychologist and was a big influence for me studying psychology as well as my commerce degree at uni,” he says. “I’m lucky that in my role I get to work across my two passions – people and business.”
Family matters at Lion
Lion’s focus on people makes Dean proud of his workplace, including Lion’s commitment to ‘go beyond’ when it comes to inclusion and gender equality. One such change has been the updating of the Family at Lion policy, which has been enhanced to support Lion workers’ growing families by eliminating the distinction between primary and secondary carers. The new policy provides any parent – including same sex parents – equal access to paid leave regardless of their caring role.
By Lion upping the ante on gender equality, it has become one of the first Australian/NZ FMCG companies to offer paid leave to all new parents, regardless of their parenting role or gender, and providing an additional six weeks’ superannuation on unpaid parental leave, taking total coverage to 18 weeks.
“It’s great because it gives both parents the opportunity to spend time with their little ones,” Dean says. “I took three months’ parental leave with my daughter. On day one of my leave, my son and daughter transitioned into Kura and Kohanga (full immersion Māori language school and day care) and my partner returned to work to kick-start her business. I am super proud and fortunate that Lion provides a policy which allows parents to dedicate time with their children at such a critical time of their lives.”
The Families at Lion policy has been a game-changer for Dean and many other Dads at Lion, who might have otherwise missed out on those precious early weeks of their children’s lives. “I recommend they do it,” says Dean. “I’ve spoken to many dads across different functions at Lion who have already accessed parental leave, and there will be more to come.”
There’s no doubt Dean leads by example as an advocate for family, equality and balance in the workplace. He also has a passion for the ocean and counts a day at the beach with friends and family as the perfect way to spend a weekend, along with a couple of Mac’s Rockaway Pacific Pale Ales.
Learn more about the Families at Lion policy here.
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